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Science sez: Want to get fit? Get into vapid exercise memes

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Approx Reading Time-10Georgia Institute of Tech says those who paint their social media with pithy exercise memes are more likely to stick to their exercise plan. 

 

 

 

A friend of mine posted a picture to her Instagram. It was tagged with the solemn promise that this would represent the only gym update she’d post. In fact, the whole point of the photo was to show off her clever Pokemon shirt that subverted exercise memes by surreptitiously supporting them. Ten months on, and she’s continuing to turn her (Jiggly)Puff into (Wiggly)Tuff. Kek.

Now, to those who go to the gym in the proper fashion, which is to say, by going but resolutely saving friends and Facebook family from saccharine and empty inspirational motivational memes, you have failed. And you will indeed fail yourself. That is if one subscribes to the findings of a recent study from Georgia Institute of Technology.

The minds behind the study claim that they can safely predict to a frankly ridiculous degree (77%) whether a social media user will pull the pin on the newer version of themselves. The theory circles around the sentiment uttered by the user.

“We see that those who are more successful at sticking to their daily dieting goals express more positive sentiments and have a greater sense of achievement in their social interactions,” said Assistant Professor Munmun De Choudhury, who is lead researcher on the project. “They are focused on the future, generally more social and have larger social networks.”

I take umbrage with this. I contend that unhappy people who hate the gym and what it does to their friends (and themselves) but nonetheless still go are just as motivated.

The findings seem obvious, almost a lazy push toward tenure, attaching deep thought to obvious phrases such as “fuck my life, fuck this, and fuck you #Gym”, but the theory dips further into the lactic acid of logic, with De Choudhury going on to surmise: “We see that these users are much more likely to share healthy recipes, offer tips on nutrition and exercise, and report on their own progress,” before continuing to mention that the study’s findings are emboldened by the numbers crunched from Twitter users who pair their development with calorie counting apps.

“These areas have been individually observed to glean health indicators. However, considering these data sources together and applying an established causality testing methodology allows us to validate for the very first time the efficacy of social media and quantified self-sensing in revealing risk to diet compliance,” explained De Choudhury. The research looks at more than 2 million tweets and 100,000+ daily MFP (MyFitnessPal) entries from nearly 700 individuals.

“Their larger network of friends and followers, and increased engagement, means that they tend to also have stronger support systems, which positively impacts the likelihood of dieting compliance.”

Now, as an angry loner who surrounds himself with like-minded people, I take umbrage with this. And while I don’t want to use the d-word (discrimination), I contend that unhappy people who hate the gym and what it does to their friends (and themselves) but nonetheless still go are just as motivated as those shiny, deluded people you see in the godawful hours, monosyllabically grunting through pure chipper exertion.

Something not listed on the findings of the study is the social cost of being one of the happy people. The social connections frayed, the self-depreciating funny bone removed, the total number of friends dwindling on Facebook, running headlong into the hills to escape the tsunami of plastic positivity that will envelop them. What of those people? And what of that study?

 

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TBS Likes is a strange place where anything goes. Like International Waters, or Christmas morning after the shine has worn off and the booze has kicked in. May the ugliness commence.

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